Hyundai i20: Attractive and Fun to Drive
by Carl Wepener
* Prices as at date of publishing
Hyundai is actively making its presence felt in the very competitive B-segment of the South African automotive market with an all-new i20 hatchback, a car that comes packed with features at a very attractive price.
It made its debut at the 2013 Paris Motor Show and makes its entry into South Africa in three derivatives: the i20 1.2 Motion (manual); the i20 1.4 Fluid (manual); and the i20 Fluid equipped with an automatic, four-speed gearbox.
The new i20 has been fitted on a new platform with a wheelbase that is 45 mm longer at 2.57 m, creating more space for the occupants. It is a true five-seater hatchback, with a very useful boot capacity of 294 litres that makes it a really versatile vehicle.
The new i20 really looks good inside and out with attractive lines setting it apart from the rest of the vehicles found in the B-segment.
Both the exterior and interior reflect a feeling of luxury and excellent ergonomic design. Driving the i20 also makes you realise that its rally experience has been used to ensure solid, surefooted dynamics on the road as well as driving pleasure.
The distinctive design of the new i20 at Hyundai Motor’s Design Centre Europe in Rüsselsheim, Germany, was influenced by the latest interpretation of Hyundai Motor’s design philosophy, Fluidic Sculpture 2.0, with the clean and elegant lines giving it a sophisticated appearance.
Compared with its predecessor, the new i20 is also wider. The width has increased by 24 mm (overall 1 734 mm), making it one of the widest cars in its class. The overhangs at the front have been shortened to communicate the dynamic qualities of the driver experience. The increase is seen and experienced in the interior, where there is substantially more space. A coloured inlay runs the full width of the dashboard and around the handle on the door, thus emphasising the width and available space. It encompasses the redesigned air vents, which overhang the dashboard into the doors that have been shaped specifically to provide better airflow into and around the cabin. There is a ‘functional clustering’ of the key technologies, grouping together instrumentation such as the audio, heating and ventilation systems, and powered window systems to yield a cleaner cabin visual.
With a large cabin and a generous list of standard technologies, the new i20 offers a sophisticated and luxurious occupant environment that will appeal to a young audience.
Thanks to clever packaging, the rear bench can fold fully flat, meaning trunk capacity is boosted to 1 010 litres with the rear seats folded – ideal for young families and those carrying larger items.
Storage space is great and this again comes in handy with a young family that needs stowage space for just about anything conceivable. One of the key goals for the design team was to ensure the new i20’s perceived interior quality was among the very best in the segment, and Hyundai Motor’s engineers and designers have done just that by selecting a number of high-quality, high-durability materials to ensure the cabin provides lasting comfort and good looks.
Throughout the new model, Hyundai engineers have applied technologies aimed at reducing the intrusion of noise and vibration into the cabin. External mirrors have been designed to improve airflow. Other new features include automatic folding door mirrors and smartphone docking integration. USB and auxiliary connectivity is fitted as standard with an audio system, along with a Bluetooth hands-free phone function and the ability to stream music over the sound system with Bluetooth from a cellphone or music player.
Engines and Transmission
Hyundai’s European engineering team, based at the Technical Centre in Rüsselsheim, Germany, focused on developing power trains to better suit the demands of buyers. Hyundai engineers tuned each unit to deliver more maximum and low-end torque, enabling a more accessible and responsive day-to-day driving experience.
The new i20 is available with a choice of two Hyundai ‘Kappa’ petrol power plants: a 1 197 cc four-cylinder engine and a 1 368 cc four-cylinder engine, both with four valves per cylinder and Dual Continuous Variable Valve Timing. Both engines uses returnless multipoint electronic fuel injection.
The Kappa 1.4-litre engine in the new i20 1.4 Fluid manual and 1.4 Fluid automatic delivers maximum power of 74 kW at 6 000 r/min, with the torque output reaching its limit at 133 Nm, delivered at 3 500 r/min. In the new i20 1.2 Motion manual, equipped with the 1.2-litre engine, maximum power of 61 kW is delivered at 4 000 r/min., and maximum torque of 115 Nm at 4 000 r/min.
The more powerful 1.4-litre engine in the i20 Fluid manual and 1.4 Fluid automatic is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and four-speed automatic gearbox respectively, and the new i20 1.2 Motion manual uses a five-speed manual gearbox.
The five- and six-speed manual transmissions fitted to the new i20 have been extensively tested to deliver a smoother, quieter and more tactile shift, in keeping with the other quality enhancements made to the model. Shift accuracy and snap-in feel have also been improved. You do, however, have to use the gears extensively on the Highveld to ensure quick response. That said, I can confirm that gear changing is smooth, quick and effective, getting the i20 to respond smartly. Cornering stability and grip are great through its 64% stiffer body shell, combined with its longer wheelbase (+ 45 mm) and increased tracks.
The latest generation of Hyundai cars has been engineered from the earliest stages with occupant and pedestrian safety as a key priority. Hyundai engineers have rigorously tested and developed the passive and active safety systems.
Every new i20 model is fitted, as standard, with a four-wheel, electronic four-channel Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), as well as Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD). Ventilated disc brakes are used on the front wheels, while the rear wheels are equipped with solid discs for the brakes.
The new i20 features effective passive safety equipment to protect occupants, including a driver and front passenger airbag, with front and rear seatbelt pretensioners and a lap belt for the middle passenger in the rear. The height-adjustable head restraints provide protection against whiplash.
The prices of the new i20 model range are:
1.2 Motion Manual R184 900
i20 1.4 Fluid Manual R204 900
i20 1.4 Fluid Automatic R214 900
Included in the prices are the Hyundai Warranty and Roadside Assistance for five years or 150 000 km.
A two-year or 30 000 km Service Plan is included in the 1.2 Motion’s price, while the 1.4 Fluid derivatives include a three-year or 60 000 km Service Plan.
The Hyundai i20 is a remarkable car, is well engineered, and is a pleasure to drive. Fuel consumption as tested by us remains under 8 litres per 100 kilometres.